By Jeff Louderback
There was a time when Oscar Tejeda was mentioned in the same sentence as Will Middlebrooks when discussing top prospects in the Red Sox organization. That was a few years ago, when they were teammates at Single-A Greenville. Their paths split over the last year at Double-A Portland.
While Middlebrooks thrived for the Sea Dogs, hitting .302 with 18 home runs and 82 RBI before a late-season promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, Tejeda stalled at Portland with a .249 average, a .636 OPS, five home runs and 41 RBI in 457 at-bats.
The 23-year-old Middlebrooks is a legitimate American League Rookie of the Year candidate as the now every day third baseman for the Red Sox after the trade of veteran Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox for pitching prospect Zach Stewart and versatile infielder/outfielder Brent Lillibridge. To make room on the 40-man roster for the extra addition, Tejeda was designated for assignment.
It was announced yesterday that the 22-year-old Tejeda was claimed by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was assigned to Double-A Altoona. At Portland this season, Tejeda was playing left field and hitting .262 with five home runs and 32 RBI in 202 at-bats.
An exceptional athlete with five-tool potential, Tejeda still should be considered a promising prospect. He is still only 22, and he can play the infield and the outfield, though his defense at second base and shortstop is below-average.
With the abundance of more appealing outfield prospects in the system – like Ryan Kalish, Jackie Bradley, Bryce Brentz, Brandon Jacobs, Juan Carlos Linares and Keury De La Cruz – there was no reason to keep Tejeda on the 40-man roster. Xander Bogaerts, who is one of the top prospects in the Red Sox system, is currently a shortstop, but the organization could move him to left field in the future.